PATERSON, NJ- For the past five weeks 35 local teenagers have been hard at work cleaning streets and playgrounds throughout the Great Falls neighborhood, planting a community garden at the Great Falls Youth Center on Front Street, and, according to Mayor Andre Sayegh, ‘building a better Paterson.”
Sayegh visited the participants of the NJCDC Junior YouthBuild Program on Tuesday to thank them for their work which he said is also helping to improve the city’s image. Through their hard work, Sayegh continued, the students are “showing others what Paterson is really about.”
The summer program was made possible by a $70,000 grant from the city’s allotment of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. CDBG funds are awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund activities such as as affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development.
By participating in the program students will earn approximately $1500 according to Bob Guarasci, CEO, NJCDC. “Young people should be excited about being in Paterson right now,” Guarasci told the crowd, “our city is about to turn a corner,” he said before dismissing them for a 30 minute lunch break after which they’d return to continue work on the large community garden.
For Ijanah, 15, and Nazmier McClam, 18, the summer job was about much more than the money they earned. “I like meeting people, I like helping people, I like helping Paterson,” Nazmier, heading to William Paterson University in a few weeks to study sports management, told TAPinto Paterson.
“When people see that Paterson is clean there will be less crime,” Ijanah said before offering her hope that Sayegh and other city officials will continue to fund the program and support projects that she believes show that “Paterson is getting better.”